Sunday, June 17, 2007

Pg. 69: Steve Mosby's "The 50/50 Killer"

Today's feature at the Page 69 Test: Steve Mosby's The 50/50 Killer.

About the book, from the author's website:
Mark Nelson is a young and ambitious police officer, beginning his first day on assignment to the team of John Mercer. A highly-decorated and successful detective, and the author of a bestselling true crime book based on his years of experience catching killers, Mercer is a legend in the force. It’s a huge opportunity for Mark. Still haunted by the death of his girlfriend, he’s dedicated the intervening time to his career, and now he’s determined to do well.

When a man is found burned to death in his own home, Mercer’s team is thrown into an investigation that grows darker and more complex at every turn. As they follow the trail of evidence, it begins to point to a man known as the Fifty-Fifty Killer: a murderer the team are well-acquainted with. His targets are young couples, who he stalks and subjects to a single night of torture and manipulation, testing and destroying the love between them. Only one of them ever survives until dawn. And his victims include a former member of Mercer’s team.

It has been two years since the murder of Detective Andrew Dyson, a period of time that saw Mercer suffer a breakdown before returning to work a more cautious man. Now it seems the killer has surfaced again, with a new plan and new methods. Another couple’s lives are in danger. And as the pressure begins to mount, the cracks in Mercer’s resolve become more apparent to his team. They need to break this investigation, or else it will break him.

Later that night, Scott escapes from a makeshift prison deep within the woods. Badly tortured, with his memory in tatters, he knows only that his girlfriend, Jodie, is still being held captive. But the team are aware of the killer’s intentions and know that, by escaping, Scott has sealed her fate. If they can’t piece together his experience by daybreak then Jodie will die in his place.

As events move towards a climax, Mark unravels Scott’s story in the hospital, while Mercer leads a search team through the woods and Jodie is drawn into a dangerous confrontation with her captor. All the time, the killer’s plan is coming slowly into focus, and as the true extent of his game becomes clear, all of them will be forced to play by his rules and face the question he offers. What would you give up to save the life of someone you love, and what would you be prepared to do?
Among the praise for The 50/50 Killer:
“Steve Mosby’s third novel, The 50/50 Killer, is so tight, lightening paced and terrifying, the words “breakthrough novel from one of the most talented crime writers around” might just – for once – be accurate … The 50/50 Killer is an outstanding read guaranteed to get you running for its two predecessors as soon as you’ve finished. (9/10)”
--Chris High

“Mosby has followed his startlingly original The Cutting Crew with a novel somewhat less surreal and more grounded in police procedure, but no less thrilling, compulsive and difficult to put down … as in the very best thrillers, you should not presume to think you know what is going on until you have read to the very last page.”
--Matthew Lewin, The Guardian

“This is the book that should see him acclaimed as a potential great of the crime genre as it’s an instant classic. … Mosby’s background is in horror and that’s often clear here - there are some distressing scenes. But he’s also an excellent writer who steers well clear of genre formulae and manages some really deft characterisation - this is no standard potboiler. And there’s a switchback twist at the climax that is brilliantly conceived and consummately executed. Pretty much flawless.”
--Paul Connolly, London Lite

“Mosby — a 30-year-old from Leeds, on his third novel — writes with confidence and originality, and displays an impressive feel for horror.”
--Marcel Berlins, The Times

“Mosby is an extremely talented writer. … [he] writes with an unrelenting pace and with such heart that I tore through this book. I can’t wait to see what he does next.”
--Jon Jordan, Crimespree

“A fabulous read”

“Thriller new boy Mosby is shaping up to be a king of the craft.”
--Daily Sport

“Mosby has established himself as a writer who stretches the genre, his writing and the particular atmosphere he brings to the story takes this out of the realm of run-of-the-mill serial killer land into much fresher territory.”
--Cath Staincliffe, Tangled Web

“This is a terrific addition to the canon of crime fiction and hails Mosby as a writer of terrific, if terrifying, ability.”
--Ben Hunt, Material Witness
Steve Mosby is the author of two additional novels -- The Third Person and The Cutting Crew -- and is now working full-time on a fourth.

Read more about The 50/50 Killer at Mosby's website, The Left Room, and at his MySpace and CrimeSpace pages.

The Page 69 Test: The 50/50 Killer.

--Marshal Zeringue